Coralstown poet, John Ennis

Palestine poetry anthology tobe launchedby local poet

I don’t like you, death

But I’m not afraid of you

And I know that my body is your bed

And my spirit is your bed cover

I know that your banks are narrow for me

I don’t love you, death

But I’m not afraid of you.

These lines from Samih al-Qasim’s “I don’t like you death” (p. 117) sum up the raw courage of the teenager on the back cover of Turangalîla-Palestine, an anthology of Protest Poems assembled by editors and midland poets John Ennis (Coralstown) and Offaly-based David Mallaghan.

At a recent Limerick School of Music launch of the book, Leaving Cert student Jack Lynch played his music for the victim and recited that poem in his honour. Both front and back covers come courtesy of exiled Palestinian Hamzi El Alami, whose ancestors defended Jerusalem against the crusading butchers of the day.

Greágóir Ó Dúill’s “Seal ag na Crosáidí” compares western interventions then and now. The editors would be happy if the Stop Israel featured on the top of the front cover resulted in one death less among Palestinians from colonising forces whose policy of “incremental genocide” (historian Ilan Pappé’s phrase) continues yearly.

The Gazan school kids on the front cover wrote the names of their murdered school mates on pieces of paper so they would not forget them; poets in the anthology wrote their poems in solidarity with named casualties, mostly young, so that their names will be remembered forever. In time, their executioners in the lofty sniper towers of today may face their own Nuremburg.

The book features verse from Ireland, England, Spain, Germany, Canadian First Nations and an Algerian High School student, Bouras Brahim, in Arabic and English. Art work comes courtesy of Mohammad Sabaaneh, fruits of his own incarceration.

Ireland suffered the Tans for a few years; Palestinians have suffered their equivalent since 1948, the year of the Nakbah, or catastrophe. The book critiques why all this is happening with the tacit connivance of most western governments.

The Mullingar event (6.30pm, Tuesday November 12) is on the publisher’s home patch after launches in Dublin, Cork, Kilkenny, Waterford, Limerick and Tullamore, with further evenings planned for Galway, the North-West and Ulster. Mullingar comes courtesy of Cailín Gallagher in Mullingar Library, Westmeath County Buildings.

Historian Ruth Illingworth will introduce the book and refreshments will be served. Young Comhaltas musicians will perform. All proceeds from book sales (€15 each) go towards commissioning a memorial to those killed during the Great March of Return 2018 / 2019.

The title? Turanga is a Sanskrit word suggesting time the eternal at our backs and to come, lîla as in event, say, the launch of the book in Mullingar for a special people, the Palestinians.